By Matt Allchin
Gasland, directed by Josh Fox, is a 2010 documentary that focuses on communities in the United States affected by natural gas drilling otherwise known as hydrofracking. The film follows Josh Fox as he travels to many different homes that have been negatively affected by the drilling around them because of their faucets lighting on fire or because of the illnesses they have caught from their contaminated water.
One of the biggest strengths of this film is Josh Fox. The film is directed and basically stars him and because of this he brings a lot of personality to the film. From the banjo playing to the conversations with the locals you can really see how passionate about the subject he is. He also supplies some comedic relief to the film, which makes it more entertaining. The film even starts out with him reading a letter from a natural gas company looking to lease his home in Pennsylvania so that they can drill in that area. This just enforces how important this issue is to him and why he is doing this. This is worth mentioning because we can clearly see the intent of the filmmaker and what he is trying to say with this movie, which is that hydrofracking, has negative impacts to the environment and the communities around the drilling sites.
The way the documentary ss shot and edited was interesting. The film feels independent because it seems like Josh is doing everything such as the scene where he is trying to call various natural gas companies himself and how his interviews are less formal and more of a conversation with the locals. Most of the shots are handheld and are filmed in close quarters during the interviews. Some parts even look surreal like the signature shot of Josh playing his banjo while wearing the gas mask. Overall, the documentary felt personal which seems like that what Josh was going for since this was an issue that was about to impact his own home.
A downfall of the film is that it mostly just provides the perspective of gas drilling effects on the local level. Even though there was a scene where he tried to get interviews with high ups in the natural gas corporations, the fact that there weren’t many of them hindered the movie. This is an important perspective especially because many of the corporations have come out against the film and have stated some inaccuracies. Whether they are right or not is up in the air since these aren’t the most honest people but it does make the lack of perspectives more of an issue.
On top of the lack of perspectives, Gasland doesn’t go into the impacts of hydrofracking on a global scale. Instead all of the interviews and scenes were spent looking at the impacts on a micro scale. Looking at the global level could have helped enforce the idea that the negative effects of natural gas drilling outweigh the benefits. Not only that, but not a single solution to this issue was brought up throughout the movie. Because of this the film feels very depressing and often leaves the viewer feeling hopeless. I understand that this film is meant to turn heads and shine some light on hydrofracking but providing solutions would have been a good addition for the people who are not as informed on the issue.
The overall message of Gasland was clear and well received. Even though it is not a perfect film, it was able to draw attention this controversial issue in our society and did its job of educating people about the horrible impacts happening to people around drilling. It has definitely riled up a lot of people against hydrofracking and has even been compared to Silent Spring by Rachel Carson as far as exposing problems in a common process in our society